Taajaabone

Semira Sanchez - Senegal


January 13, 2012

It was just a normal evening in Palmarin, Senegal. I had just eaten dinner and was sitting on the patio looking at the palm trees outside my house. All of a sudden a bunch of drumming interrupts my peace and quiet. All I see is children with powdered faces and drums coming to my house singing and dancing. My mom comes out all excited clapping her hands and started dancing with the children. She went to her large bag of rice that she keeps in our living room and to gave them a can worth of rice. I had obviously missed something about today.

When the kids left, I had asked my mom what was going on. She explained to me in French that tonight was Taajaabone where boys dress as girls and vice versa. They go to every house to sing and dance until the person living in the house gives them cous cous, rice or money. By the end, with the rice/ cous cous you have collected, you make a meal with it. Moreover, with the money that you collected you can buy fish for the meal as well.

As my mom was explaining this to me, my 7-year-old brother came out of his room with powder on his face, a purple flowerily dress on and his hand made drum. It made more sense now.

About 15 min later my 18-year-old cousin came to my house with her groups of friends and told me to get ready. My mom handed me my dad’s clothes, I put powder on my face and put on my old Tampa Bay Buccaneers hat. Even Global Citizen Year Fellow Lucias Potter joined in. My mom handed him one of her dresses, he also put powder on his face, and we were ready to go.

We hit every neighborhood that we could, passing other groups of males wearing tight jeans, tiny shirts with bras. Some guys even went all out putting on make up and wigs. And the girls wore baggy clothes, sunglasses and hats.

 

The energy in the village was contagious. Everywhere, people were singing, banging their drums and dancing. Even when we were walking down the street we would be singing, take a pause to dance and then walk again. Each house we would go to, we would bang our drums, dance in front of the people in the house, and fill up our bag with whatever the neighbors would give us. We went around the neighborhood for a good 3 hours. So by the time it was over, I was exhausted.

 

If I were to compare this holiday to any American holiday, it would be Halloween.

Semira Sanchez